About Champignons

Impact on health

On the basis of analysis of chemical composition of edible mushrooms, it has been claimed that champignons are food products providing variety of microelements that beneficial for health, such as: Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals. All those elements are important for proper development of the body, as well as for maintaining its basic functions. The mushrooms can constitute a basis of food portion of a healthy adult.
Protein, cellulose (chitin), water 

All mushrooms contain 80-90 % of water. Nevertheless, the dry matter consists mainly of proteins. That is why mushrooms are sometimes called “the meat of the forest”. The aforementioned proteins consist of almost all amino acids possible, including those exogenous ones, which cannot be synthetized in organism and must be provided with food. A significant amount of amino acids present in the proteins makes it possible to classify mushroom as nutritious food products. According to some scientists, the biggest amount of proteins can be found in champignons and king boletes. It is worth indicating that fresh mushrooms contain more proteins than dried ones. A specific type of cellulose – chitin, is present in mushrooms as well. One of its main functions is to keep the mushrooms inflexible. Chitin polysaccharides present in mushrooms prevent allergies and improve functioning of the immune system. Chitin, while consumed, acts similarly to cellulose – it is not processed, but it improves important functions of the digestive system. On the one hand, it reduces appetite by creating the feeling of fullness, and it prevents absorption of fats on the other hand. 


Mushrooms contain about 1-10 % of fat (including polyunsaturated fatty acids, which decrease possibility of arteriosclerosis development). They are easily digested (92 to 97 %) and are pretty similar to animal fats in character. The fruitbodies of some fungi contain also organic acids. In the case of champignons, those are for example: malic acid, citric acid, tartaric acid, and fumaric acid. Fungi are low in fat (consisting some unsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial for our health, and lacking in any trans fatty acids), which makes them a perfect complement of our dietary habits. 


There are significantly less carbohydrates in fungi, especially comparing them to proteins. Moreover, they are different than those produced by plants. Carbohydrates in fungi are well absorbed by the organism and that is why we tend to feel full after eating a meal containing fungi. Taking percentage values into consideration, there is about 2 to 10 % of carbohydrates in fungi. Digestion of those carbohydrates is additionally pretty high. Carbohydrates in fungi are absorbed easier than in the case of those contained in plants, and similarly to those in milk and white bread. 

Vitamins and minerals 

Fungi are rich in both vitamins and mineral salts. They are the main source of vitamins from the B group, which are important for our nervous system. Presence of B3 and B5 is comparable to their amount in other nutritious products and the amount of B1 vitamin is comparable to its content in grains. 

Moreover, fungi contain a moderate amount of folates, the amount of which is comparable to this in plants. Bio-accessibility of folates in fungi seems to be comparable to accessibility of folic acid, in contrast to some vegetables, such as pea and spinach, where the bio-accessibility is significantly lower. The folate content is the highest in the case of pleurotus and brown champignons. Folates contain, among others, the folic acid, which is also known as the B9 Vitamin. Niacin, which is also referred to as the PP vitamin, can be found in fungi in similar amount to its content in yeast. What is more, vitamins, such as A and D (fruits and vegetables do not contain it at all, but there can be found in abundance in champignons) can also be found in fungi. The presence of the C Vitamin is confusing, as some sources say that there is a lot of it in fungi, whereas some state the contrary. The content has been proved to be smaller than in the case of fruits but higher than in vegetables. 

Fungi are also a vital source of important minerals. They are one of the most abundant sources of selenium, playing an important role in the immune system, having strong antitumor and autoxidizing effects, preventing cells against damages that may cause heart concerns and some kinds of tumor. They are also rich in ergothioneine, which is a natural antioxidant, helping to protect cells. 

Pleurotus fungi, which are increasingly popular in Poland, contain folic acid, as well as the B-D glycan, which has antitumor effect. Beta-glycan, which can be found in numerous species of fungi, stimulates our immune system, decreases frequency of allergies, and participates in physiological processes connected with digestion of fats and monosaccharaides. 
What is more, numerous mineral salts have been found in fungi: potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, sodium, as well as some microelements: zinc, copper, iodine, manganese, potassium, and lead. 

Champignons and their impact on our health condition

Until just recently, fungi have been classified as so-called functional food product, so they are products having a positive impact on our health. Documented surveys have proved that presence of various important elements, despite of those considered as crucial for the body (mineral salts, proteins, and carbohydrates) is significant. Moreover, therapeutic properties of fungi have been discovered, as biologically active elements can be utilized in the pharmaceutical industry and for production of cosmetics. 

Antitumor properties

As an addition to their nutritious properties, fungi are also beneficial when it comes to optimization of our health and they decrease risk of numerous illnesses. Antitumor properties (possibility to block tumor cells developing in the body) of fungi were described for the first time by Lucus in 1957. It is believed that the specific antitumor properties of fungi are connected with presence of specific polysaccharides. Recent studies have shown that champignons also have significant amount of antitumor substances, such as: thirosinase, inhibitors of aromatase, and other polysaccharides having antitumor properties. It has been discovered that champignon extracts prepared by adding hot water to them showed presence of polysaccharides, which can inhibit proliferation of tumor cells up to 100 %. While surveying 10 species of fungi, it has been observed that in the case of a mouse, the antitumor properties of champignon extract were most powerful in comparison to other fungi. 

Healing properties of champignon – breast and prostate cancer 

Surveys on properties of white champignons suggest that the fungi can be used for prevention in the case of the breast cancer. It has been discovered, though that they contain a substance, which can inhibit synthesis of aromatase. The substance is called estrogen. The white champignon extract is responsible for blocking the enzyme responsible for tumor cells development. During surveys on animals, which were based on fungi extracts among others, it has been discovered that they successfully inhibit development of tumor cells. 
A series of surveys based on in vitro and in vivo examinations was held in order to examine effects of consumption of white champignons on the prostate cancer. Similarly to the breast cancer, the fungi have a significant preventive role. Champignons have been discovered to contain phytochemical substances, which can inhibit development of two crucial enzymes: 5-alpha-reductase steroid and aromatase. The 5-alpha-reductase steroid causes transformation of testosterone into its active form, which is called 5-alpha- dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The active form of testosterone plays an important role in prostate cancer development. Experiments based on treating cells with fungi extracts for 7 days have shown that the champignon extract showed inhibiting properties in the case of prostate cancer cells, which survived hormonal treatment. 

The beta-glycine has been found to be present in pleurotus and champignon. The bioactive substance has some important oxidizing properties, stimulating functioning of the immune system. The substance increases production of white blood cells in the bone marrow, as well as neutralized free radicals, which are responsible for tumor development. Moreover, some scientists stare that one of active substances present in pleurotus – pleurae, can decrease the size of tumor, and the antioxidant substance slows down aging processes and prevents cells from being damages. 

Fungi impact on cardiovascular diseases 

Fungi are also beneficial when it comes to the cardiovascular system, as they decrease cholesterol level in blood. Results of numerous surveys suggest that fungi are a crucial source of lovastatin, which inhibit functions of the main enzyme responsible for synthesis of cholesterol. Examinations held in laboratories have shown that consumption of fungi decreases pace of cholesterol absorption from the alimentary tract. The characteristic effect of consumption is decrease of total concentration of cholesterol in blood, together with fraction of lipoproteins, which are also referred to as “the bad cholesterol”. What is more, due to abundance of cellulose, especially glycan and chitin, excretion of bile acids can be improved. 

Moreover, due to the fact that fungi are a great source of potassium and are low in sodium, they decrease blood pressure and can decrease possibility of brain stroke. The Portabello champignons – fungi with the black tops – have more potassium than bananas. Moreover, they have much more copper, which is cardio protective in effect. Regular consumption of pleurotus fungi lowers cholesterol concentration, can lower level of blood sugar or individuals suffering from diabetes, and in the case of people with arteriosclerosis, the condition of blood vessels can be improved. Substances present in the fungi decrease level of blood sugar and balance cholesterol level. 

Fungi impact on body mass control

Surveys on fungi and their possible dietetic influence on control of the body mass suggest that in comparison to diets characterized by similar caloric value, diets based on fungi cause the biggest loss of fat. It is so, because fungi are low in calories and fat. One portion (about 80g) provides only 10 kcal and about 0, 4 g of fat. Moreover, 10% of the dry matter is pure cellulose. 

Additionally, high water content (about 80-90%) can cause feeling of being full after consumption. Low concentration of energy (calories) can facilitate maintaining constant body weight. Some surveys have been held, showing that shifting from meat to fungi can lower caloric value of meals by a half (without losing the feeling of satiation and taste). That is why meals made from fungi, without additional whipped cream and fatty sauces, are perfect for individuals willing to lose few pounds. 

The portion of fungi, which is low in calories, is highly beneficial for all individuals controlling their body weight. When it comes to nutrition, they are valuable and stodgy, as they contain proteins and carbohydrates, as well as fats (low level), vitamins and minerals. 
Consumption of a cup of fungi, regardless of their form, as fungi can be chopped, boiled or served raw – can become a great daily source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid , as well as selenium and some vitamins. Fungi are also a great source of cellulose and other nutritious ingredients, such as iron, calcium, folic acid, zinc, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. 

Alterative for vegetarians

Abundance of proteins in fungi is so significant that they are sometimes referred to as the meat of the forest. For individuals, who avoid eating meat, it is important to know that fungi can be a healthy meat replacement. Proteins present in champignons contain exogenous amino acids, which are impossible for organism to synthetize. Additionally, lacks of iron and D vitamins diagnosed in vegetarians can be avoided by consuming the fungi on regular basis (champignons have both of those elements). 
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